The High Council of Justice wants to neutralize the role of international experts in the judicial reform

A few days ago, the media published the copy of regulation on the competition to the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ). It is likely that the High Council of Justice (HCJ) plans to approve the document in exactly this edition at the meeting on Tuesday, December 10.

Thereby, the HCJ will shut the door on new honest HQCJ and all judicial reform initiated by the President.

What does the regulation of the HCJ foresee:

  • Illegally demands international experts to personally confirm that they have a university degree and professional experience;
  • Neutralizes the authority of the Competition Commission to select the best candidates by voting. In particular, it forces them to make a rating, where 50% of the assessment is results of the test of knowledge the law;
  • Obliges the Competition Commission to use only official sources and to prove its assessment according to standards of a criminal proceeding. In other words, the Commission will not be able to question the candidate who conceals his or her assets without the court sentence;
  • Judges-candidates to the HQCJ get illegal benefits at the competition;
  • The HCJ has the right to appoint to the HQCJ anyone who they want, but not those candidates recommended by the Competition Commission.

Thus, the HCJ by its regulation tries to completely neutralize the role of international experts in the Competition Commission.

“In fact, the decision whom to appoint to the HQCJ will be made by the HCJ, and international experts will have no influence on the competition. According to such a scenario, it is most likely that judges controlled by judicial clans will become members of the HQCJ, rather than honest lawyers who want quality changes in the judicial system. We can shut the door on judicial reform with such regulation on the competition”, commented Galyna Chyzhyk, the expert of the Anti-Corruption Action Center.

Moreover, it is unlikely that international experts will agree to legitimize this farce with their honest names. It is also unlikely that honest reputable lawyers will want to take part in this competition. These actions of the HCJ only confirm the need for its own restart and accelerates this process.

We should remind that relaunch of the HQCJ is one of the key elements of changes in the judicial system initiated by President Volodymyr Zelenskyi. This is reaction on failure to clean up courts and failure of previous HQCJ to select quality staff in the judicial system.

The President suggested that the new HQCJ should be selected not by dependent and corrupt judges, but by the Competition Commission with international experts. According to the law, the Competition Commission should select 12 best candidates for 12 positions to the HQCJ and submit this list to the HCJ for approval.

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